34 Proven Ways to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free

34 Ways to Create a Clutter-Free Home - and Keep it that Way!

Tell me if this is familiar:

One day your kitchen bench is clutter-free and a calming beacon of white space. The next, there are three separate piles of papers, homework, catalogues, bills, handbags, mobile devices, random hairclips and Lego blocks scattered across the surface. You don’t understand where it’s come from, but there it is. Sitting in the middle of your kitchen like it’s always been. Taunting you and your futile efforts at simplicity.

That is Clutter Creep.

It slowly leeches in to your clutter-free spaces, frustrating you and making you feel like this idea of a tidy, uncluttered space is a hopeless prospect.

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time you’ve probably seen a post or two on how to declutter. (If not, or if you’re still looking for help in how to begin, try this A-Z post, this one that asks three questions for decluttering sentimental items and this post on the five steps of simplifying.)

But it’s this hamster wheel of clutter that I want to deal with today. How do we stay on top of the recurring clutter once we’ve finally got it under control? How do we eliminate Clutter Creep?

Last week I turned to my fabulous readers (yes, you!) to see if you had any wisdom to share.

Specifically I asked this question via Twitter and Facebook:

Can you share with me one way you stop clutter accumulating in your home?

And, as always, you blew me away with your generosity.

Just a Note: Some of the following tips are very small, some are quite grand, but all have the potential to make a difference to your home and your life. And yes, some are similar, but even a slightly different perspective can be the key to unlocking a stubborn problem.

34 Proven Ways to Create a Clutter-Free Home – And Keep it that Way!

  1. No recreational shopping. Stay out of stores unless I really need something. (Jennifer S)
  2. I reset to zero every night before going to bed. That is, I put everything back where it’s supposed to be. For my husband’s things, I put them on his laptop (my way of asking him to deal with them). When I wake up, I can tackle today because all of yesterday’s stuff is gone! (Alondra C)
  3. I watch Hoarders for 30 seconds… (Beth W.B)
  4. Declutter toys before birthdays and holidays. (Leslie L)
  5. Keeping things because I have an emotional attachment to the memory is a big problem. I’m slowly starting to take photographs of some of these things and it’s much easier to then throw or donate the actual item. (Glenne L)
  6. Take care of the mail as soon as you bring it in – recycle all that needs to be recycled, open what needs to be opened and recycle the envelopes, file things right away. (Laura L)
  7. Make sure everything has a place: shelf, bin, rack, etc…I’m very into organizers for keeping items tidy. (Alysha E)
  8. I purchased a basket for mail. Nothing gets past the front door without being processed before it makes it’s way throughout the house. (Barry H)
  9. Move out of your home and live in a camper trailer. (Beacon Seekin’)
  10. Walk from the mail box to the recycle/garbage. Nothing comes in unless it had to, and catalogs never have to. (Rosie S)
  11. Buy less. Try for a month and see the difference.  (Leslie SN)
  12. Don’t buy or subscribe to magazines or newspapers. You can read all the news and recipes and fashions and crafts and DIY and travel journals etc.,etc., online! (Charles V)
  13. I stopped impulse buying. I only buy what I need. I research and question the need. Can I live without it? How will it benefit me? Do I have a place for it? (Laura W)
  14. Reducing our filing by scanning and saving copies of warranty documents, important receipts, letters etc. One back up hard drive or flash drive takes up far less space than piles of paper! (Glenne L)
  15. Monthly 21-item purges. (It’s an idea I found on YouTube.) You scour your room/house/whatever space you want and purge 21 unwanted items out of there in one go. To recycle, donate, pass on to family, recycle, bin. It doesn’t matter. (Laura W)
  16. Don’t bring it in to the house in the first place. (Kerin J)
  17. Kitchen bench must remain clear. I’ve even taken my fruit bowl away. Found things like that were a magnet for clutter. It starts with a button, then a tube of cream, some bobbie pins, the mail… Before you know it there is more stuff than fruit! The goal is to see the bench clutter-free all day. Things get put away immediately. (Rebecca M)
  18. Say no to things if you know it won’t be used. (Leslie L)
  19. Stop buying it in the first place, lol! (Kristin – Mamacino)
  20. Go on a no-spend challenge for 6 months, and don’t buy anything except materials for gifts, and consumables. Experiences are allowed, such as lunch out and time with friends. (Linda S)
  21. Put things away. You quickly see whether you have room or not and if you don’t, something has to go. But the #1 is not to bring it in to start with. (Patty – Homemakers Daily)
  22. For paper clutter, I just put a paper shredder at the front door. Shred all the junk mail, put the bills in a bill folder. Go through magazines and catalogs immediately. If I find things I like, I go find it online and Pin it on Pinterest. I wrote about how to hide the shredder so it’s not ugly here(Christina – Little Victorian Blog)
  23. I make sure I clean out the fridge and pantry on bin day and shopping day. I find the fridge stays fresh, putting groceries away is less of a chore and we waste less and reduce the tendency to “over shop”. (Glenne L)
  24. Get rid of multiples and replacing them with one or two high quality pieces. (Christina – Little Victorian Blog)
  25. Do one extra organising job each day on top of normal cleaning. For example clean out a drawer or cupboard that’s gotten cluttered – that way it doesn’t get so out of control that it seems like a mountain. (Melanie M)
  26. I have a ‘to donate’ box sitting at the front door – making passing on things I no longer need very easy. I drop the box off at a local op-shop once its full. (Tricia – Little Eco Footprints)
  27. We withdraw a certain amount of cash every week to live on and stash any leftover to save up for things we really want. That needing to save for things has cut our impulse purchasing right down. (Melinda B)
  28. Ask yourself one simple question when choosing whether to keep something: “If I lost it by mistake, would I really care – or even be glad?” (Cassie T)
  29. We’re very particular about what we bring in. And we try to pick up before going to bed. (Rita R – This Sorta Old Life)
  30. Put things away, keep on top of paperwork, bin what is finished with, don’t keep magazines, keep a charity bag on the go. (Lisa A)
  31. If something comes in, then something goes out. We try to have a place for everything. (Clare)

On top of these, I’d also add three of my own tips for keeping your home clutter-free:

32. Perform regular clutterbusts.

Whenever you feel the clutter creep taking over (a telltale sign is feeling frustrated or stressed when you look around your home) it’s time to tackle the issue before it takes hold. Take an empty laundry basket and work through your home room-by-room, picking up everything that is out of place. Work as fast as you can, and fill the basket multiple times if needed. Empty the contents onto your dining table or floor and sort through it. Toss the rubbish, bag up any donations and put the remainder back in its place.

33. Do things properly.

When we scrimp on the details – fail to put away the toaster, forget to pack up the craft supplies, leave folded laundry on the bed – we are creating opportunity for more clutter. This is something I am guilty of, and can hear Sparky nodding in agreement. But it really is a key way to keep clutter at bay. A clear surface motivates you to keep it that way, whereas a cluttered surface invites more clutter.

34. Understand the limitations of your current situation.

While not technically a decluttering tip, it is one worth hearing. Unless you want to live in a constant state of stress and anxiety, it’s important to accept the fact that some things cannot be changed. If you have young kids, there will be toys. If you have school-age kids, there will be papers, and bags, and homework. These limitations are part of life. Rather than battling them every day, do what you can to minimise the problem, keep it from getting out of hand and then let it go.

Do you have a favourite tip for keeping your home clutter-free? I’d love to hear it in the comments below. 

174 Responses to 34 Proven Ways to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free

  1. Thanks for including my tips! :)

    And I love #33. That’s the hardest one for me. I constantly remind myself of what Martha says: “Tidiness begets tidiness.”

  2. My Mother-in-law taught me to investigate the clutter areas. See where and why the clutter happens and then find some solutions. It may just need a fix of an extra hook or a buliten board.
    I also reduce my paper by having a scrap journal. It is paper but I use it to write down the details of the stuff that I would usually keep. Clip articles and then recycle the magazines or catalogue.

  3. My Mother-in-law taught me to investigate the clutter areas. See where and why the clutter happens and then find some solutions. It may just need a fix of an extra hook or a notice board.
    I also reduce my paper by having a scrap journal. It is paper but I use it to write down the details of the stuff that I would usually keep. Clip articles and then recycle the magazines or catalogue.

  4. #32 is most critical for me currently as I am living and running a business from my bedroom in a share house. No room for mess in there or I’d soon be featuring in #3.
    Great post – really enjoyed!

  5. Don’t buy more house/storage than you really need. It’s easier to avoid collecting stuff if you have no place to put it. I live in a small apartment, and although it would be nice to have more space to entertain in sometimes, I like that I can easily say no to bringing in new stuff because there is no place to put it. I have learned to buy items that multitask and have to keep surfaces clear to be able to get through my day.

  6. Do things properly is so important. I so hate that shortcuts rarely are, but it’s true! I’m working on being better at this one, especially for my car. Thanks for including a link to our blog. :-)

  7. My tips, having 2 young daughters, is have them Share a room, buy containers for toys and sort them, if they dont fit in those containers get rid of them, and for bdays & xmas we only buy 1 or 2 gifts, usually items for outdoors, this reduces bedroom clutter, and they already get toys off other people. When people ask what to gift to our girls we tell them money to add to their savings accounts, this is for their first home deposit, a car or university when they are older.

  8. Great tips! Thanks … I am away from home for my studies, every time I am home the clutter at my parents house really bothers me. It use to be okay NOW, it agitates me so much :( I will use your tips to hopefully help solve our house’s major clutter problem :( Thanks!

  9. 100% clean is easier to maintain than 95% in my experience. A little bit of clutter invites more.

    Straiten the room before leaving the room. Never takes long if you do it every time because nothing has time to build up.

    DO IT NOW attitude. You may think it will take the same amount of time to do it later, but it takes more time to do it later. When things are left dirty or out of place it clogs up other things and the mess compounds quickly.

    Make your space as attractive as possible. It’s more motivating to keep a room clean when it looks great that way than if it’s just going to look … eh.

  10. 1 more thing:
    Teach the children!! Tonight before bedtime I just started singing the cleanup song and putting a couple toys in the toy bin and my two year old did the rest. Many times it feels easier to do it yourself than supervise getting your child to do it, but in the long run it will save you so much work and teach your children to be responsible for their things/messes.

  11. Thanks for the tips. I like #15, #21 and #31. I have a tendency to leave things out so that I just grab it. I tend to be out of site out of mind, but when you have a lot of clutter, it is easy to misplace things. If I bring something in my apartment, I try to get rid of 2 things. I like #15 even better, the 21-item purge every month. I will definitely give that one a try.

  12. Every Thanksgiving weekend I go through my whole home and declutter each room. By the time Saturday morning (or afternoon) rolls around, I usually have a big load to drive to the thrift store. I feel good about getting my home simplified for Christmas, thrift stores get nice things in time for people to buy them for gifts, and a nice long weekend is a good chance to do this big project. I get excited to do this- often so excited that I get started as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away.

  13. Great list! Here are a few I use: 1) Have a place for everything, including things like a basket for blankets in the living room and sports equipment 2) Reserve a place for clutter you can’t get to right away. Make sure it’s in a very convenient place and either is disguised as a decoration or is hidden. I have a “sort through it later” drawer in the kitchen, as well as a box that looks like a book on the bookshelf in the living room. 3) After snack and homework are done, we spend a few minutes together tidying up 4) Pick up 10 ( or 5, or 20, depending on your situation) Tell everyone to pick up a certain amount of objects and put them away 5) Make sure things are easy for the kids to put away and not up on high shelves or difficult places to get to 6) Put books in little baskets on the shelves. This keeps them from falling over and the kids don’t have to worry about getting them in order of height. These are some things that have helped our family of 10 over the years. Maybe you’ll find them helpful too!

  14. I love #28! I went through the house thinking (and dreaming) if I packed up and moved to Costa Rica tomorrow would I want to take this with me? Another saying that’s helped me is “Hold on the the memory, not the item”. That’s not to say the house isn’t still cluttered, but it’s definitely a work in progress.

  15. I’m ready to sell on ebay, etsy, … just need a push and I know it will be like wildfire and I will finaly be happy with less stuff! Just need a push….help! I’m not sure how to sell online!! help!

  16. I like your reader’s list. They are practical and doable ideas. What I find helps me is noticing the peacefulness of a clutter busted space. It’s like breathing fresh air. If clutter returns, I felt uncomfortable. The peace of mind is gone. I want that back, so I declutter so that I feel good again.

  17. Avoid having too many horizontal surfaces. Horizontal surfaces invite clutter. For example, do you need a long dresser or will a tall chest of drawers work better? do you really need a decorative table along the wall or would a piece of art work better?

  18. I love number 34. As a single mum of 2 small children in a small home that has little storage, it is very hard to keep it all straight. The anxiety that comes from having a house that is in constant state of clutter is huge and suffocating to a certain extent.
    Thanks for the post.

  19. This list needs to be decluttered. A lot of repeats. Some were just anecdotes. Other hints weren’t really about decluttering. I was only half way through the list and I bailed bc I lost interest.
    Not that I don’t love decluttering…
    This is just CONSTRUCTIVE criticism…You have a very nice site.

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  21. Some good ones here. Not sure about the advice to shred or recycle catalogues though. Why not just put up a no junk mail sign and avoid it in the first place?

  22. Something that helped me with books which are my Achilles heel when it comes to decluttering: In regards to paperbacks specifically, I received a kindle for my birthday when I was tackling a mountain of books.

    I made a list of the books I wanted to read but literally did not have the space for and have been getting them on kindle slowly as the need arises.

    I donated the hard copies to a local charity and now have liberated the much cluttered hallway. The relief has been enormous so I recommend this method if paperbacks are difficult for you.
    The emotional attachment to books can be insurmountable and was for me until the kindle freed me! Good luck.

  23. We have a home for everything and anything we purchase newly has to have a home too. Sometimes another object loses it’s home for the new object and is recycled or donated. One way we kick clutter is preferring quality over quantity. We save up to purchase items and think for a while about the purchase. When we make it, we look for items to last the rest of our lives. I have a table I’ve had since I was 19, found it in an alley and restored it. It’s been my living room corner table for 43 years. Never need to buy another table. We don’t “buy” into fads and fashion for home or personal, we prefer classics that have staying power and are well built. We are scoffed at by family and friends for the price we pay for some things, but we have those things for the rest of our lives while the family replaces the same item three times because it’s poor quality. Who saves money over the long run? We do.

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  45. I have a few proverbs…”Don’t put it down, put it away.” ” Clean up your back trail..” ” Don’t step over it, do something about it…” Also, keep drawers and cupboards closed. Closet doors too. Never allow the dinner table to be a catch all… Never, never, never. Tidy up wherever you go, inside or out. Keep shoes in the closet or very neatly set where you chose, shoelaces tucked into shoe. The glance back will tell you if you missed something. Always push in chairs, straighten stools.
    It’s surprising how much difference getting the ” visual noise” out of a room. Lastly, keep reading about decluttering and keep a box going all the time!

  46. Hello everyone,
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  49. Love all the advises from experts. So truth!

    Don’t buy or subscribe to magazines or newspapers. You can read all the news and recipes and fashions and crafts and DIY and travel journals etc.,etc., online! (Charles V)

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  51. I’ve been pretty successful in starting to declutter but I noticed a destructive, angry feeling creeping in as I went about the task. This may have been covered by a contributor but awareness of feelings is important to avoid a feeling of desolation greeting what should be a welcome clear space!

  52. Brilliant tips!Having alot of trouble helping my mother de clutter her house at the moment as she’s emotionally attached to so many things, so not easy. But great easy to follow list, thanks!

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  56. I have been practicing most of these tips for many years, and preaching them for a lot of that time—not as successfully. I think the most important tip is the one about a place for everything and everything in its place. If I could only get visiting family members to respect that. Too often when someone asks where’s the Scotch tape or wants to use my scissors, they finish their task and then put the item somewhere else. If I didn’t watch and correct them, all my carefully plotted “places” would be just concepts and I would be hunting down the scissors or tape once again. The other tip I have modified to fit the disorganized side of my life is to have not one but several junk “drawers” even though they don’t have to be drawers. I have several baskets strategically placed. Into one I toss the “tool-ish” things (screwdrivers, tacks, picture hangers, duck tape etc) and into another the scotch tape, stamps, glue, extra markers, etc. The main thing is that I know what junk goes into which “junk drawer” so it’s still in its place.

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